Online Dating – Dangerous Ishq!

In this era of busy lifestyle, it is obvious that people have less time to dedicate to their personal lives and hence tend to become lonely. If I say that we live in the age of lonely hearts… I may not be wrong!

These lonely hearts always try to find some or the other way to escape their emptiness… With social media taking over… rather, leading the communication sector… it has proved to be the best tool and the most common way to find friends… and also that ‘special someone’.

Just like any relationship… online relationships too have their own success as well as unsuccessful stories. However, here the issue is that we begin getting closer and opening our heart to some one we never met… we don’t know at all about that person still we get in to the relationship and find a soulmate in that person… hence chances of things going wrong are comparatively more.

I consider such scams into two categories;

1. Personal

2. Cyber threats

When I talk about personal benefits, spying and money extortion tops the list. Any one who wants to spy an individual can fall in love with or make the individual fall in love online. People find this as an easy way to fool some one and earn money in the name of emotions and friendship.

I am sure many of us might have faced such situation wherein, we have met some one online who gradually becomes good friends and then at times love. Later that person may have asked for financial help stating that they are facing some unforeseen situations. Usually such online relationships are short-term though with a promise of long-term at the beginning. The intention is financial benefit. The day you deny helping such person, you do not love or rather trust that person!

As per FBI, chances of women being trapped in such romance Scams is double than men. Last year (2011) the losses reported from this type of fraud reached $50.4 million, with the average victim losing around $8,900 in the name of love. The FBI report also claims that at a rate of 15 complaints received per day, these scams saw daily reported losses of approximately $138,000, or more than $5,700 every hour.

 Most of the times, it is difficult to identify the intentions of the real people behind the fake profiles. The scam artists are innovative in terms of developing new tricks and excellent when it comes to creating characters online to run such frauds. They win trust and heart of victims and often leave them heartbroken and financially ruined.

 The second category of Online dating scams is cyber threats. With the growing cyber age… cyber terrorism, cyber espionage is on peak. Cyber criminals easily take advantage of people adapting to the online dating and relationships in order to exploit the vulnerabilities. Hackers know that in the name of love, fooling people is easy. Moreover, once the trust is won, it is easy to get access the victim’s financial information with an intention of identity theft. Such activities include less effort and help attain maximum output with zero percent physical interaction. No doubt, online dating is a billion dollar industry!

 These days online scammers have started a new scam campaign on Facebook wherein they alert you that someone has viewed your profile or has showed interest in you or has posted a message for you. Then to know more about it they ask you to click on the mentioned link (fraud). Once you click on that link, you welcome malware in your system that takes over your system by infecting it.  

 In addition, at times dating sites are hacked due to improper security measures deployed by the web site. Even if the user exercises utmost caution, the site itself may provide complete information about the member to the hackers including CC number, etc. in case the victim is a paid registered member. Recently, a military dating website – was hacked into by hackers wherein they took confidential information such as passwords, email addresses, etc. from more than 170,000 records. 

 Moreover, in case the photographs are shared while in the online relationship, anyone can take advantage of those pictures. I hope you know about morphed images! People who fall prey of such scams not only face financial loss buy also embarrassment that is usually tragic.

 So, next time anyone who tries to find love online, always ensure of not sharing any kind of sensitive information while interacting on dating sites. Parents, especially of teens, should be cautious and ensure that the child is not getting in such practices. Remember that photographs are not the right proof to judge the genuinity of person and may not even show the real sender (scammer). There is a possibility that the love interest (scammer) of the victim may not even be the same gender that was informed at the beginning of the relationship. It is not that such scams may only happen when some one approaches to the victim. There is a possibility that the scammers may have created a profile on the dating site and then waits for a potential victim to contact them.

 At times, scammers send out random unsolicited emails stating that they are a loner or have a desire to begin a relationship in the hope that some gullible recipients will favourably respond. Many a times, such relationships also begin in chat rooms or messengers.

 Well, I know, anyone reading this may have a question in their mind – is it possible to find love online? I would say, anything is possible… however, I guess we ourselves are the better person who can think best for us! Or may be we are looking for love in wrong places!

Internet Threats to children

I recently read about investigation that resulted in child rape charges against a 19-year-old in Salisbury with an ugly journey into the world of Internet crime and child pornography. As the investigation proceeded deeper into the underground realm of child pornography and Internet crime, this extensive nature of the danger to children goes far beyond what most of us would imagine.

Internet has proved to be a both boon as well as bane for this generation. With the rapid & intense penetration of Internet in our lives, our screen time is increasing day-by-day. Today’s world is full of information that is accessible to all age groups just with a click. This age group can be as young as 4 years to as old as 70 years. All the information, good or bad is right in front of children which can be both misused and put to good use.

Today, children are exposed to a wide variety of information on the internet. Statistics shows that approximately 80% of children who are five years of age use the Internet at least once a week. And I am astonished to know that over 60% of children from three years are watching movies on the Internet and mostly are using Internet TV. It is estimated that time spent watching TV is 47% of all time spent to the media devices by children and 90% of 5-9 year old children on a daily basis reads books for at least an hour. However, children’s screen time is increasing day-by-day every year, though the books time remains the same. Well, that is the only reason I feel that children of such an age are quite vulnerable to Internet threats. Frankly speaking, at times, they even don’t exactly know, at which link they are clicking and whether the Internet site is free of Malware, Spyware and Viruses. No doubt, many times they land up navigating child-sensitive content sites that can affect child’s psychological health. Their inquisitive mind does also have some questions about some aspects of life. They have found the answer on internet and now know how to access the tool quite well. They easily become victims as they don’t know what they’re getting themselves into when they respond to Internet predators.

With social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and many, the current generation seems to be too much obsessed with themselves. They have these so-called ‘short attention spans’ and a childlike desire for constant feedback on their lives. Well, why should someone be so much interested in what someone else has had for breakfast or gets stuck in traffic or goes out for shopping? Though the present scenario is that, children who are these social networking site users, feel the need to become mini celebrities who are watched and admired by others on a daily basis. They do things that are Facebook status worthy and keep updating about their lives on these walls because they feel that this is the only way they can define themselves by ‘people knowing about them’.

It is almost as if they are going through some kind of identity crisis…

In a sense it seems as if keeping the brain in a sort of time warp…

It is almost as if people are living in a world that is unreal where what counts is what people think of you or if they can click on you…

And to gain attention children don’t even bother to know much about whom they are adding… all they want is to have a fan following…! They don’t know that with updating almost about every move and activity, there are chances of them being kidnapped easily, too!

I am not a psychiatrist, though somewhere I feel that this growth of so-called ‘Internet friendships’ have the capability to effectively rewire a child’s brain that can result affecting their concentration, a need for instant gratification and poor non-verbal skills, such as the ability to make eye contact during conversations…!

Talking about the child rape charge in Salisbury, the fact that somehow the victim’s mother discovered those disturbing e-mails sent to her son by the criminal was the reason behind the investigation which was initiated. The e-mails were soliciting the boy to pose nude for money for pictures to be posted on a graphic Internet pornography site and criminals very clearly told victim that he earned a lot of money doing exactly the same thing. What if the victim’s mother could not have been able to get access to those emails? Imagine the mental state of the innocent who is going through such situations!

Well, the ideal solution for parents to prevent their children from falling victim to such Internet-borne child predators is, knowing where your child is wandering in the Internet. I have heard about many parents logging onto social networking sites like Facebook to spy on what their children are doing. They did it to avoid having ‘awkward conversations’ with the children but I feel the reason here is also that they feel it is the only way they could find out about their lives. Yes, ‘overprotective’ instincts are the reason… and I respect that!

On the other hand, majority of the cases are found where children know more about computers than their parents do; they even know how to hide things. At times I feel the need to pull in some kind of law enforcement to make sure that parents are educated enough about computers and the Internet so as to safeguard their children. It’s a new age. Hence parents need to be alert!

Children on the other hand may feel that their privacy gets disturbed with parents doing so. And I have come across few groups on face book such as ‘For the love of god-don’t let parents join Facebook’, with more than 7,700 group members. Well, all can say is that this is the world we live in now!

So if you feel that your child is spending a lot of time on the Internet, I recommended you to use a good Internet Security Suite that offers you with an effective ‘parental control’ feature. Because as a parent, it is your duty to take control of the website/content they are viewing or gathering information and e-security plays a major role in this. If the computer is secured and protected with the good security suite then the website/content can be guarded and children’s interest can be taken care off. There are innumerable websites that contain adult content, games and objectionable pictures or movies that can create a long lasting impression on these tender minds. Hence, a good security suite would help the parents as well as their children to answer the questions only relevant to their age and interest and the website/content which is not required can be filtered.

Also, if possible computers at home should be in places where you can walk by and see the screen, not in children’s bedrooms behind closed doors. Also a good idea is to set up all computers and be the administrators so you as a parent can control access to all its parts and programs. Avoid children being the administrators of their computers. They are capable enough to control their parents’ access to it, allowing things to be hidden!

Quite smart enough… right! 🙂

There’s no ‘Shortcut’ to Success!

These days definition of success has changed and it only means earning lot of money. Yes, everybody wants to make quick buck. Though we forget that there is no shortcut to success aka money…!

My observation says that lack of money is the root of all evils. However, with the recently reported Speak Asia’s Online scam, if I say that greed of money is worst…. I am not wrong!

Over the past two decades, the world renownedSingaporebased HMT group started ‘Speak Asia Online’, a unique niche for itself, which was claimed to be the world’s largest online Survey Company. With its blended Process of Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Speak Asia Online optimized its effectiveness & attracted Asian saying ‘Get Paid for Your Opinion, That too weekly!’ and with companies increasing the expenditure on advertising, public opinion, no doubt has become extremely valuable.

It is estimated that alone in justIndia, companies spend nearly Rs. 300 Billion on trying to convince people to buy their products and services, by finding out what are the actual needs, tastes and preferences of the consumer by conducting these surveys! So, participating in these paid surveys means that companies can gauge your immediate response to their new products or marketing initiatives. Paid surveys can be filled in online over the Internet in the comfort of your own home or work place, so that you can register and participate at a time convenient to you. Wow… really a great opportunity to earn quick money!

Once you pay Rs. 11.000/- as an enrollment fee to Speak Asia, you get to fill up a few surveys every week. A typical Survey has around 25 Questions with Multiple Choice Answers, and each Survey takes around 10-20 minutes to complete, that’s it! No Answer is Right or Wrong, because it is your Opinion. Every Wednesday, at 5:00 PM you will get 2 Surveys, which you may complete at anytime during the month. SpeakAsiamade us feel that our opinion was valuable and you get rewarded for your honest opinion and the time you take out to respond to the surveys of our clients. The correctly filled up surveys help you earn reward points calculated on a weekly basis that can be redeemed 30 days after the submission of your survey. You are allowed to use these reward points to buy products and services offered by Speak Asia worldwide. And, if you are successful convincing anyone to join you this survey company you earn extra incentives. You also get to own your Virtual Office with your login id & password to monitor growth of your business and see your earning details 24 -7, you do not have to maintain any records yourself as this is done online for you by the company’s high-tech software. Sounds Too Good to be true… right?

Seeing people making money out of this, it is easy for anyone to get convinced to join such companies. And to it people who took it as full time profession leaving everything… greed to quick & easy money you see! And on the top of it, it claimed to be a media channel, market place and marketing system rolled into one that enables you to unlock your true worth and earn wealth, confidence, social standing and respect through multiple channels and gives you the control, the authority, the power to dictate the market place. It lured stating that as a Speak Asian, you are a leader rather than being a follower. Speak Asia believes in creating new possibilities and realities that are consumer-empowering! Wow…. why should you not join Speak Asia Online?

And so many of us boarded this Speak Asia train with greed to reach heights! Yup and now this Singapore-based company is alleged to have duped 12 lakh investors acrossIndiato the tune of Rs 1,300 crore. The news is that Speak Asia’s chief operating officer Tarak Bajpai, ‘panelist’ Deepankar Sarkar and others have been arrested, while Speak Asia’s India CEO, Manoj Kumar is said to be underground. Many of their bank accounts have been frozen and the IT is probing through what channel the money was transferred outside the country. And now, Speak Asia is considered one of the biggest Scams, rather I will call it biggest democratic scams- by the people & for the people ofIndia.

Indian government has ordered an investigation against this controversial multi-level marketing company and the preliminary inquiry and has revealed that it is not registered under the Companies Act. Besides, the company has also not registered its place of business with the Registrar of Companies,Delhi, as required under Section 592 of the Companies Act, 1956. See, we become so blind with greed that we don’t even bother to check the genuinity of such companies!

After all this, I find it very strange that the company is still advertising regularly in the mainstream media saying it is innocent of all the charges it has been accused of. Somewhere I question that why is media encouraging by publishing the ads. Just for (greed for) money! And now if you visit its website, you get two pop-ups from the Speak Asia team trying to prove their innocence. And the team has all the guts to compare this issue with LokPal Bill, asking people associated with this online company to support in these dark-days and fight for injustice!

We have many examples of fraud companies who looted people and have gone. SpeakAsiaonline joins the list. I feel bad about the losses people who were associated with this company are suffering. However, I feel that it’s high time and we should understand that there is nothing like free lunch. If there is one, it is the most expensive. We need to make sure to avoid falling prey for easy money. There are so many fake schemes in operation like Craft Assembly, Medical Billing, Email Processing, Typing At Home, Chain Letters/Emails, Envelope Stuffing and many such currently in the market, yet people go for easy money and get caught!

There are many of us who are seeking employment on the Internet, or work. Though do we ever think that how can we trust these virtual companies, what they end up wanting, and what they don’t end up giving. We need to realize that there are no real employment offers on the net that pays you for work. That’s really not going to happen. All of these are scams, selling you jobs that never ever will pay you for your contribution.

Get out of this greed… the safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket! 🙂

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